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How to Live a Meaningful Life

Last week, I had the great good fortune to sit down for a Zoom interview with Jordan Peterson, Jonathan Pageau, and John Vervaeke. As I’m sure you know, Peterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, is one of the most influential figures in the culture today. Pageau is an artist and iconographer working in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and Vervaeke is a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto. All three of these gentlemen have a powerful presence on social media. The topic of our conversation was a theme that preoccupies all four of us—namely, the crisis of meaning in our culture, especially among the young. To kick things off, Peterson asked each of us to give our definition of meaning and, more specifically, of religious meaning. When my time came, I offered this: to…

The Cross: Love’s Harsh and Dreadful Beauty

Imagine if a logo designer was commissioned to come up with a new symbol for Christianity other than the cross. It’s highly likely that in order to make our religion attractive and appealing, the new logo would be smart, unique, and would speak to the benefits of our faith for those who would consider it. From a worldly perspective, Christianity’s symbol of the cross is too brutal, too dated. If the primary logo of our religion is an instrument of torture, few will be attracted to it—or so it seems. Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, previously known as the “Triumph of the Cross.” The purpose of this feast suggests that rather than being embarrassed by the cross or daring to suggest an alternative logo, we should do the exact opposite. It encourages us to celebrate the sign of the…

Pope in Slovakia: Great expectations for youth event

As the Pope prepares to greet the youth of Slovakia, there are great expectations following a pandemic which has seen many young people impacted by COVID-19.

Pope at Divine Liturgy in Slovakia: Let us turn our hearts to the Cross

Pope Francis presides at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite in Prešov, calling on the faithful of Slovakia to “turn the eyes” of their hearts “to the crucified Jesus.”

Pope in Slovakia: Roma community, a volunteer’s perspective

As Pope Francis visits the Roma Community in Košice, one volunteer describes her experience of working with the residents there.

Pope in Slovakia: Prešov Divine Liturgy shows Church breathes with 'two lungs'

One of the main highlights of Pope Francis’ visit to Slovakia is the celebration of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy in Prešov. Speaking about this historic occasion, Fr Jaroslav Lajčiak, Vicar General of the Eparchy of Košice, says it is a great sign of unity for a Church that breathes “with two lungs.”

Mountains Motivate the Ascent of the Spiritual Life

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-2)   Over the summer, I hiked the Polish Tatra Mountains, the same mountains John Paul II used to trod, and while doing so, it occurred to me that in a secular age that…

Post 9/11: Anticipated by Radiohead and René Girard

On August 16, 2001, I stood with my stepbrother and tens of thousands of people in Liberty State Park on Upper New York Bay in Jersey City with a beautiful view of Lower Manhattan. I was twenty-one years old, had recently graduated from college, and would be on my way in a couple of weeks to start graduate school in England. I was on a last hoorah vacation—more of a pilgrimage, really—and we had reached our goal: seeing our favorite band, Radiohead, on one of the last dates of their American tour in support of their turn-of-the-millennium experimental masterpieces Kid A and Amnesiac. The band played a marathon set, including two encores, with songs full of paranoia about modern life—songs which, even then, gave me the…

St. Peter Claver, Slave to the Africans

The boats would pull into the dock like any other day in Cartagena. As the vessels would unload, onlookers would have seen the living cargo present in the deepest levels of the ship. Many of these people were sold into the slave trade, and it’s estimated that often a third of them died in transit. But I’d imagine that there were no onlookers there, no one reaching out to greet those aboard the ship. Ships full of people seen as objects and not persons was a normal occurrence, so normal that the use of the person—the person made slave—was unseen, because it had been reconciled thusly in the hearts and minds of men.  But not St. Peter Claver.  Peter Claver had come to these docks shortly after his ordination to the priesthood and after working with…

From Mary to Philip Neri: Lessons in Detached Cooperation

“All of God’s purposes are to the good, although we may not always understand this we can trust in it.” — St. Philip Neri Philip Neri was neither the first nor the last saint to remind us that God’s purposes, though far beyond our comprehension, are “always to the good” and trustworthy, but he said it perfectly and succinctly. If we have faith, Neri’s words apply a mysterious balm of consolation during challenging times, times when we don’t understand why sad, harrowing, senseless, tragic, or just plain weird things are happening to us or to others. It is a balm of reassurance—one that reminds us that we are given opportunities to cooperate with a divine plan that is yet unfolding, and thus to co-create within that plan as best we…